Search, vigil continues

Light rain helped calm area waters on Tuesday, but didn’t slow the search for a Walker man who drowned after jumping off a boat to swim in Lake Michigan two days earlier.
Becky Vargo
Jul 3, 2013


John English, 47, was on a boat with several friends when they stopped to take a swim about 4 p.m. Sunday offshore of North Beach Park in Ferrysburg.

English dove into the 60- to 65-degree water, surfaced and appeared to be in distress, said Lt. Steve Kempker of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department. His friends tried to throw him a life ring, but he disappeared under the water.

Michigan State Police joined the recovery effort Tuesday with a boat and another side-scan sonar, Kempker said. Six boats with 12 personnel were on the water until 7 p.m. — three marine patrol craft from the Sheriff’s Department, and one each from the state police, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department and Norton Shores Police-Fire Department.

Kempker said they were operating five side-scan sonar devices and had expanded their search area by about a half-mile in each direction. With the changes in the currents and riptides, English’s body could be just about anywhere, he said.

Kempker said a few "hits" with the scanners turned out to be large tree branches.

The search was suspended at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Kempker said they plan to continue the search today and re-evaluate what to do on the Fourth of July.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


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